Ah, December—the time for carefree spending, parties and much-needed time with friends and family. But after the last present is unwrapped, credit card bills start pouring in and the headache begins—you make promises to improve your finances in the New Year. But what if you started now? Instead of becoming overwhelmed with long, unattainable New Year’s “to-dos,” here are six small ways to jump-start your New Year’s Resolutions. Make 2018 your most financially successful year yet!
When was the last time you assessed your monthly subscription services? With the increasing popularity of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, do you regularly watch cable as often as you once did? Maybe it’s time to decide if cable is a worthy monthly expense. The end of the year is a good time to take stock of your monthly expenses to determine what you actually use, and what can go. It can also be a good time to negotiate your Internet, auto and home insurance contracts to ensure the best deal.
Donate, donate, donate!
With the New Year rapidly approaching, the time to make final charitable donations for the 2017 tax year is now. Consider combing your closets for unworn clothes, or donating unused toys in the basement to a charitable organization. Make sure to document the items you’ve donated, and keep all receipts. Voila! You’ve just de-cluttered your home for the holidays and vested a financial head start for the New Year.
Change Your Tax Withholding
If you normally receive a tax refund, try adjusting your tax withholding at your job so that your next few paychecks are a little bigger. That will mean a smaller refund, but more money in your pocket That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Getting money back via a tax refund means the government got an interest-free loan from you. Turn that around and enjoy that interest-free loan for yourself and your loved ones.
Automate your savings
Out of sight means out of mind. Consider setting up automatic allocations of your direct deposit to a “You Name It” Club account to bolster your 2018 savings goals. Bi-weekly allocations of as little as $15 can add up to $390 annually! Don’t limit yourself—consider an investment such as a share certificate.
Ditch the coffee
Most Americans love their morning cup of Joe—but at a hefty price. Drinking a modest $2.50 cup of coffee through the workweek adds up to $12.50 weekly, and $650 annually—ouch. If this is your vice, consider cutting back and treating yourself 1-2 times a week instead. Make your cup at home or organize an office-wide Keurig purchase. The same concept applies with eating out for lunch. Consider cutting back, packing your lunch or splitting with co-workers, and watch your checking account thank you!
Say NO to sales
December is the month of “The Biggest Sale EVER” both online and in-store. The deals truly seem to be too good to pass up! Studies show, however, that you are more likely to make impulse purchases during a sale, and actually spend more to reach coupon thresholds. While overspending applies to December more than other times of the year, it’s a good rule-of-thumb to follow throughout 2018. Be smart and watch for specific items you’ve wanted to go on sale, but pass on unnecessary sales or coupons—just because there is one.
Resources: USA TODAY, Time Inc., U.S. News & World Report L.P, Forbes Media LLC